I love vacations and recommend them to everyone. Who doesn’t love a relaxing getaway to a beautiful locale.. the beach, the desert, the mountains, Europe or whatever floats your boat. Time away from the stresses of career, school, house and yard work and other various and sundry responsibilities.
Unfortunately, unless one has unlimited time and money, it’s not always feasible to take said vacation when you really, really need one. But, there is a solution for this. A compromise, if you will. May I suggest the weekend getaway. AKA the mini-vacation, the girls weekend, the couples retreat. Whatever you call it, the weekend getaway has the power to revitalize, refresh and reset your inner zen.
A getaway doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated or require traveling great distances. One of the perks of living where I do is that it’s a two hour drive from three major cities. Travel another few hours and you make it to a very nice lake (depending on whether you go North or South, the atmosphere and people at these lakes vary greatly!)
Here are some of my top rated weekend get-away’s located within a few hours of my humble abode in central Illinois. You’ll notice I listed Chicago three times. One for family, one for friends and one for couples – each is a completely different experience. (Substitute any city near your home if you aren’t a Chambana reader.)
- Family trip to Chicago. Chicago has it all! Great restaurants, shopping, museums, sporting events, architectural tours, biking or walking on Lake Shore Drive, Navy Pier etc.. You can find great hotel deals on sites like expedia.com and depending on the time of year, there are outdoor concerts, events in the parks, restaurant week, etc.. We love bringing our two older kids (they get their own room of course) and making a long weekend of it.
- Girls trip to Chicago. This is where it can really get fun. Make this an event, take in a show (check out http://www.broadwayinchicago.com), take a cooking class (www.thechoppingblock.com), shop till you drop, take an exercise class (www.barmethod.com) have afternoon tea, wine, wine and did I say wine?
- Couples Trip to Chicago. Make it a romantic getaway. No kids, of any age on this adventure. If you can splurge, try one of the nicer hotels. One of my favorites is the Gwen (conveniently attached to the Nordstrom shopping mall on Michigan Avenue). Super spurge and stay at the Ritz, Penninsula or Four Seasons. Breakfast in bed is also a nice touch. So important to make time for your sweetie!
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. An easy 3 1/2 hour drive from our town, Lake Geneva is the ultimate upscale Midwestern Lake Resort. We love staying at the Grand Geneva (www.grandgeneva.com). The resort was formerly the Playboy Club and features two gorgeous golf courses, an amazing spa, tennis, pools and beautiful views. The resort also owns a water park lodge (Timber Ridge) which has condos and is great for families with younger kids. A free trolley gets you around the resort. If you go, be sure and take a boat tour of lakeside mansions (many owned by the Wrigley family). Cute shops, great dining and an overall relaxed but upscale vibe is what Lake Geneva is all about.
- Lake Egypt, Illinois. On the other end of the spectrum is the power plant heated (but beautiful) lake of Egypt near Marion in Southern Illinois. You won’t find boutiques or fancy restaurants but the lake is an amazing place for boating, jet skiing and swimming. The water is amazingly warm and the vibe is completely laid back and dare I say a bit deliverance-ish. There are places to go to sight see, including vineyards and parks. You will see deer galore – along with a lot of bugs! Lake Egypt is mostly private homes but there are some cabins and homes for rent. There are some fun places to eat on the lake and it’s a short drive into Marion for other options. This is a great casual getaway, no need for anything dressier than shorts and flip-flops.
- Shopping at Keystone Crossing in Indianapolis. This is one of my favorite, easy shopping destinations. Two hours from my driveway to the mall parking lot. Plenty of great stores and dining nearby. Plenty of free parking. This a great one day getaway alone or with friends. When my daughter was in school in Ohio, this was the halfway point and I often stopped for an hour or two when I drove to visit her.
What I consider a fun weekend is certainly not the same for everyone but the point is to find time to regroup and destress – even if it’s just for a day. It’s amazing what good a mini vacation can do for your mind, spirit and body. But if you absolutely can’t leave town, here are some stay at home options:
- Take a walk with a friend (furry, four legged or of the human variety) – clear the mind and exercise the body.
- Get a manicure or pedicure (so many local choices – Modern nails, Diva Nails, etc..) Cheap and relaxing! Plus you can catch up on back issues of “People” and other discerning and intellectually stimulating magazines.
- Stroll around Art Mart or the shops at Old Farm. Buy a lovely candle.
- Coffee and discussion with a friend (need I say more?)
- Try a new exercise class (perhaps yoga) Mettler Center has dozens of options each week. A great workout is like a mini vacation to me! (I know, totally annoying..)
While I realize that this is not the deepest nor the most informative blog topic, it is nevertheless important because – as we are so often (and sometimes tragically) reminded, life is so very short and we must make time to enjoy it with friends, family or just ourselves.
Here’s to a fun and fabulous getaway! Make time for it today!
Striving and Thriving (and relaxing a bit) in the middle years!